My transition from Nikon DSLRs to the Fujifilm X mirrorless system has made my camera bag and main camera and lens combination significantly lighter. As I discuss in my blog post, it has been liberating being able to use the Fujifilm X-H1 and 100-400mm lens attached to a shoulder strap rather than lugging around a heavy and inconvenient tripod and head. That said, it is still useful to have some support, especially when working with a specific subject over a period of time.
While working in South Africa in 2017, I found a monopod to be useful when photographing from their open-sided and roofless style of safari vehicles. Tripods aren’t suitable for use while sitting in vehicles, but a monopod can easily be used to take the strain when the camera is focussed on a subject for a longer period of time. My old metal monopod was rather heavy, weighing in at nearly 1kg and unfortunately its flip locks seemed to fail and it needed regular and significant maintenance.
Back in March I visited the UK Photography Show and felt impressed with the Benro range. They felt lightweight, small when collapsed, good build quality and were available in twist locks rather than flip locks. As my 2018 African photo safaris approached, I decided it was worth investing in a new monopod. After a bit more research, I opted for their MMA28C model.
To give it its full designation, the Benro MMA28C Mach3 9X Carbon Fiber Monopod. It is part of their Mach 3 Collection which according to Benro, feature 9 layers of carbon fibre for increased rigidity, have magnesium fittings and rubber twist locks. Let’s look at the key specs…
The MMA28C monopod is shipped in a blue drawstring fabric bag and comes with a spanner to make adjustments to the pivot foot attachment and head bolt. The fabric bag is okay for storage, packing in a larger case or car boot, for example, but it isn’t a strong bag I would use in more demanding circumstances. But, I don’t think it needs one anyway!
The three twist leg locks have rubber grips which feel reassuringly ergonomic. They help make the monopod quick and easy to deploy and offer a good level of resistance when making minor height adjustments while the camera and lens are attached. The foot has a ball pivot mechanism to ensure it remains firm on uneven terrain and the foam sleeve and wrist strap help make it easy to carry and handle.
I used the MMA28C extensively in Kenya and South Africa this year and I am happy to say it absolutely fulfilled its purpose. It took very little room up in my hold baggage and didn’t cause any weight issues. When it was collapsed it was small enough not to get in the way of camera bags and feet in vehicles. In use it was adjustable to a perfect height to use in a sitting position or when kneeling on the vehicle floor.
I’ve been using this monopod together with the Benro B1 ballhead.
Strong, easy and quick to deploy and use, comfortable foam grip for handling, pivot foot, lightweight, twist locks
See my edits below!
Edited: 13th November 2019.
I’ve been continuing to use the MMA28C and I continue to be pleased with it. I’ve done a fair bit of travelling over 2019 and it’s small size and lightweight has been incredibly beneficial. I’ve also used it on a couple of our Kenya photo safaris with a mixture of gear, a Fujifilm GFX50s medium format and 250mm f/4 lens, the Fujifilm X-H1 with a 200mm f/2 as well as the X-H1 and 100-400mm lens.
When sitting in safari vehicles and using cameras with any form of articulated or folding out rear monitor, I’ve found it very useful to stand the monopod between my thighs with the lens pointing out to my left or right. The rest of the lens rests on my lap and I can easily compose photographs and control the camera while benefitting from this lower angle.
I’m yet to have any grumbles with this monopod, all fixings and fastenings remain strong and easy to adjust and the foam grip is in as good condition as when it was bought.
Edited: 23rd April 2022.
Well, things have changed. So much so I have totally re-eavaluated my thoughts on this monopod. It hasn’t had a great deal of use over the last couple of years given the Coronavirus pandemic and my lack of travelling and I do look after, clean and maintain all of my gear. The twist-lock fastenings are failing, so much so I have little confidence in them being able to hold my main gear and over extended periods they actually lose their grip and slowly shorten the monopod! It’s not that old and certainly isn’t over used so sadly, this monopod is now in the spares and repairs box and it has been replaced with an alternative.